1st Edition

Cognitive Archaeology Mind, Ethnography, and the Past in South Africa and Beyond

    352 Pages 93 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    352 Pages 93 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cognitive Archaeology: Mind, Ethnography, and the Past in South Africa and Beyond aims to interpret the social and cultural lives of the past, in part by using ethnography to build informed models of past cultural and social systems and partly by using natural models to understand symbolism and belief.

    How does an archaeologist interpret the past? Which theories are relevant, what kinds of data must be acquired, and how can interpretations be derived? One interpretive approach, developed in southern Africa in the 1980s, has been particularly successful even if still not widely known globally. With an expressed commitment to scientific method, it has resulted in deeper, well-tested understandings of belief, ritual, settlement patterns and social systems. This volume brings together a series of papers that demonstrate and illustrate this approach to archaeological interpretation, including contributions from North America, Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, in the process highlighting innovative methodological and substantive research that improves our understanding of the human past.

    Professional archaeological researchers would be the primary audience of this book. Because of its theoretical and methodological emphasis, it will also be relevant to method and theory courses and postgraduate students.

    1. The benefits of an ethnographically informed cognitive archaeology

    David S. Whitley, Johannes H.N. Loubser, and Gavin Whitelaw

    2. Cognitive archaeology revisited: agency, structure and the interpreted past.

    David S. Whitley

    3. Ethnographic texts and rock art in southern Africa: a personal perspective.

    J.D. Lewis-Williams

    4. Cultural traditions on the High Plains: Apishapa, Sopris, and High Plains Upper Republican.

    Thomas N. Huffman and Frank Lee Earley

    5. Paquimé’s appeal: the creation of an elite pilgrimage site in the North American Southwest.

    Todd L. VanPool and Christine S. VanPool

    6. Ntshekane and the Central Cattle Pattern: reconstructing settlement history.

    Thomas N. Huffman and Gavin Whitelaw

    7. Homesteads, pots, and marriage in southeast southern Africa: cognitive models and the dynamic past

    Gavin Whitelaw

    8. A cognitive approach to the ordering of the world: some case studies from the Sotho- and Tswana-speaking people of South Africa

    Johan van Schalkwyk

    9. Anthropomorphic pottery effigies as guardian spirits in the Lower Mississippi Valley

    David H. Dye

    10. Upemba archaeology, Luba ethnography, and vice versa

    Pierre de Maret

    11. Gates between worlds: ethnographically informed management and conservation of petroglyph boulders in the Blue Ridge Mountains

    Johannes H.N. Loubser and Scott Ashcraft

    12. On the archaeology of elves

    Joakim Goldhahn

    13. Cognitive continuities in place: an exploration of enduring, site-specific ritual practices in the Shashe-Limpopo Confluence Area

    M.H. Schoeman


    David S. Whitley specializes in the archaeology and ethnography of far western North America as well as rock art globally. He is a director at ASM Affiliates, Inc., a cultural resource management firm, in Tehachapi, California, and a research associate at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand.

    Johannes H. N. Loubser is an archaeologist and rock art specialist at Stratum Unlimited LLC, Atlanta, and a research associate at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. He specializes in rock art conservation and management but also conducts archaeological excavations when needed.

    Gavin Whitelaw is an archaeologist at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa, and an honorary lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research focuses on Iron Age farmers of southern Africa.